Vegging Out

By: KELLY SHERIDAN

Many people are fully aware of how difficult it can be to maintain a healthy diet. After all, there are only so many garden salads and celery sticks one can eat before an unhealthy snack craving occurs. Eating the same vegetables every day will undoubtedly lead to diet boredom and perhaps weight gain. Even for those who are not on a diet, vegetables are great additions to keep healthy and stay in shape. Now that the weather is warm and sunny, what better way to celebrate the upcoming summer months than with a unique, delicious veggie snack?

The USDA recommends eating 3-5 servings of vegetables per day; however, eating more than that is certainly not harmful. Vegetables are low in fat and contain multiple healthy vitamins and minerals. Those of a vibrant green, yellow, or orange color are healthy sources of calcium, magnesium, potassium, iron, and vitamins A, C, and K. They are also a great source of fiber, which can help prevent colon cancer and other diseases. Vegetables also help to detoxify the body. The can also have medicinal purposes such as garlic and onion, which are antibiotic, antiviral, and antifungal.

So, what constitutes a daily serving of vegetables? Each of the daily 3-5 servings could consist of something such as ½ cup (4 fl. oz.) of low-sodium vegetable juice, 1 cup of raw, leafy green vegetables, or ½ cup chopped vegetables, raw or cooked. Though a serving of vegetables can be found in half a cup of steamed broccoli or some vegetable juice, there are multiple healthy, delicious ways to sneak vegetables into unique recipes. Below are some great vegetable-rich examples to add to the summer recipe list:

  • Baked Kale Chips: Kale’s Omega-3s provide great health benefits for hair, skin, and nails. It also contains anti-carcinogen properties and iron, which increases the metabolism.

Ingredients

1 bunch small-leafed kale (rinsed, patted dry)

1 Tbsp. olive oil

Salt and pepper (to taste)

¼ tsp. crushed pepper flakes (optional)

Directions
Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Cut the kale into 1-inch pieces, and toss them into a bowl with the olive oil and spread evenly on two baking sheets. Be sure not to salt the pieces beforehand; it will draw out the moisture and cause the kale to un-crisp. Bake for about 8-10 minutes, or until crispy, and don’t forget to flip them about halfway through.

Cranberry Walnut Salad: Normally salads can get boring, with the traditional ingredients of lettuce, tomato, and dressing. This one is unique, delicious, and contains many nutrients. Salad fanatic Claire Sheridan loves a version of salad with avocados included. “I love avocados, and they mix well with the cranberries and walnuts in this recipe. I also like to add grilled chicken sometimes as well.”

Ingredients (Salad)

2 cups washed baby spinach
2 cups mixed baby lettuce
2 cups baby arugula
½ cup toasted walnut pieces
½ cup sweetened dried cranberries
Crumbled feta cheese (optional)

Ingredients (Dressing)

2 tbsp. lemon juice
¼ tsp. salt
½ tsp. ground pepper
1 tsp. dried basil leaves
¼ cup olive oil

Directions
Wash and drain salad greens, and preheat the oven to 300 degrees (toaster oven is preferred). Spread walnuts in a shallow baking dish and toast in the oven for 20 minutes in the middle of the oven.

Roasted Vegetable Penne Pasta: This pasta dish is simple, light, and delicious!

Ingredients

2 zucchini
1 eggplant
2 pints grape tomatoes
¼ cup extra virgin olive oil
1 cup & 2 tablespoons Parmesan cheese
3 cloves garlic (grated)
1 pound penne pasta
Salt and pepper (to taste)

Directions
Preheat oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit, line 2 cookie sheets with parchment paper. Wash vegetables well with water, and when dry cut into bite-sized pieces. Separate veggies between 2 pans and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Roast for about 40-45 minutes, rotating top and bottom pan every 15 minutes. They should be done when they start to brown around the edges. Approximately 15 minutes before vegetables are done, prepare pasta by boiling a large pot of water. Add pasta and salt, remove from heat when done and pour into large serving bowl. Pour vegetables on top of pasta, and on top of vegetables add ¼ cup olive oil, garlic, and 1 cup Parmesan cheese.

Hopefully, these end up being delicious additions to a summer cookbook. For those of you who do not like vegetables, here are some helpful tips for sneaking them into different recipes:

  • Juice: For those who are not vegetable fans, juice is a great way to sneak servings of vegetables into an everyday diet. Fruit juice can also be added to a serving of vegetable juice for extra sweetness.
  • Baked Goods: Though they are only healthy in moderation, veggies can also be incorporated into baked goods such as zucchini bread and carrot raisin-bran muffins.
  • Pasta sauce: Chop small pieces of vegetables into pasta sauce to sneak in a serving of vegetables.

Now you have no excuses to not get the healthy amount of vegetables every day. Hit the grocery store, stop by the produce aisle, and stock up on veggies to add to normal dinner recipes.

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Categories: Home, Sections, Your Lifestyle, Your Nutrition

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